I birthed a bad sleeper. Whether that fact is purely coincidental, or whether it's some sort of karmic retribution for the amount of times that I chose sleeping over social engagements, I'll never know. But regardless, Maggie is a staunch advocate of prying me out of bed every night so that she can comfort nurse anywhere from 1-11 times per night. (Yes. I said 11. It only happened once, but it counts, and for the first year of her life, she woke up around 5-7 times per night, making me lucky if I got more than two hours of sleep at any given time).
As the first weeks and months of her life went by, I knew that I was just doing what it took in order to get both of us the most optimum amount of sleep in a night - if she whimpered, I'd spring out of bed and rush over to her (or, more accurately, as time went by I'd roll out of bed and make my way to her, pulling myself across our hardwood bedroom floor, leaving a trail of drool in my wake), then I'd bring her back to bed with me, where I'd nurse her back to sleep. I eventually started questioning whether or not I was doing the best thing, tending to her upon a moment's notice, or whether I was creating a monster by sticking a boob in her mouth every time she made a peep in the night - but never at any point did I feel I had reached a comfortable point at which to cut her off and trust that her tummy wasn't empty, or that in spite of being empty she could survive the night and sleep soundly until morning without nursing.
I don't know how many people this will resonate with, or whether you have to have been in this position to empathize with me, or whether my iron will is actually more like spaghetti will - but at any rate, I know now full well that I did indeed create a monster. A sweet, lovely little blue-eyed, milk-drinking monster. And not a bone in my body is ready to cut her off.
Because ...the bond! The BOND. Aptly known as The Bond That Physiologically Prevents Me From Weaning Even When I Start Looking Like This.
I took these pictures two mornings in a row, when Daryl was out of town, and Maggie was in the throes of an awful head cold and so, as it goes, neither of us were sleeping. And I was so desperate for help, so weary and so tired of feeling so alone and so at the end of my rope that not only did I take these pictures to forever immortalize This Feeling, but I posted them on Facebook. I let all my friends see me, pyjama-clad, at my sad and sorry worst, with bags under my eyes so heavy I thought they might be about to reach my chin. And I posted these with fervor on a whim of feeling so liberated at the thought of showing people how I REALLY AM and not how happy I look in my profile picture. I posted a rundown of exactly when and for how long Maggie had woken up both nights prior, and told people to make no mistake about how things were going at home, because here's what I look like so you can imagine how I'm feeling. Like death itself.
And my friends saw me, heard me, and felt for me. Because of course they did. Because as it turns out, who gives two shits about what you look like?? Amidst my anguish there existed not only sympathy, but here were these other mum-friends of mine who had gone or were going through the same thing. It takes so much energy putting up pretenses and making it look as though we're conquering every day as superparents - I can't understand for the life of me why we aren't being true with our friends. And as a friend, do we not love others completely, and hope for nothing less than that with those we choose to spend our time with? Maybe not - maybe it depends on the friend - but I make a point to surround myself with close friends - those with whom I willfully desire meaningful relationships, because quite frankly I'd rather stuff my face with Doritos and focus on the crunching sound in my own ears than I would rather make banal small talk with acquaintances. (I have a love-hate relationship with my introversion.)
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. What I'm getting at is that I realized that - duh - I'm not alone in this. As if I ever had the gall to think that I am the first and only one in the world to experience anything I'd been going through.
I realized how important it is to talk this all out - every hint of desperation that seeps in and takes over your mind, every moment in which you feel may be your final undoing - because none of us are alone. Every feeling that I as a parent have ever felt is something that scores of mothers and fathers have felt a hundred times over. It takes a village, they say, to raise a child. And make no mistake that it takes that very same village to raise up a parent.